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[whitespace] Lady of the Locket: Judy Wyant shows off an antique piece guaranteed to last longer than a box of chocolates on Valentine's Day.

Photograph by George Sakkestad


Romancing The Stones

Faint heart ne'er won fairy lady--but diamonds on Valentine's Day are a good start

By Janet Blaser

MORE PEOPLE THAN ever are deciding to get married in this millennium year, and jewelers are expecting a busy, busy Valentine's Day. But let's think about it: If diamond's are a girl's best friend, and dog's are a man's best friend, where exactly does that leave us?

Not to worry, says jeweler Judi Wyant, who's paired thousands of antique rings, Victorian lockets and other adornments with loving couples--solo and shopping together--in the 14 years she's had her shop on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz.

"A lot of times fellows will come in and try to surprise their girlfriends," says Wyant, whose biggest-selling item is wedding bands. "It's nice to be surprised, but ... I myself don't advise that. The woman has to wear this ring, hopefully for the rest of her life." Wyant includes sizing and a two-week exchange period on all sales, although she says that, with careful thought and consideration, many men can successfully pick a piece of jewelry their significant other will treasure.

Once a budget is established, she begins a series of questions to better understand the woman's taste. She scoffs at the ads that proclaim, "Is a month's salary too much to pay for the rest of your life?" There's no need for that kind of sacrifice, she says.

"I don't advise them to go into debt--that's crazy," she said. "I try to keep my prices reasonable."

Wyant explains that "you get a lot more for your money" with an antique ring than a new one, simply because older stones cut by hand are not as valuable as the new brilliant-cut (by computer) stones. Plus, her antique jewelry is truly one-of-a-kind.

"People are shocked to see the difference in price between new rings and old rings," she admits.

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Gem Lines: A basic rundown of some of the most popular stones and their associated mystical qualities.

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Wyant confirms that diamonds are always the bestselling stone, year after year. They weren't always held in such high esteem, though; in fact, it wasn't until the 20th century that diamonds were even recognized as a precious stone, along with rubies, emeralds and sapphires.

Viewed as representative of the highest qualities of both good and evil, diamonds were called the "stone of perfection" in the Arab world, and thought to be divine in nature. Modern-day gemology refers to diamonds as the purest stone, not just in quality, but in their effect on the wearer, demanding clarity of mind and heart.

The Buddhabhatta, a fifth-century Indian scripture, states that whoever wears a diamond will have "a life free from all dangers, even when faced with snakes, fire, poison, illness, thieves, water, and evil spirits." Even the name "diamond" recognizes the unusual attributes of this stone, coming from the Greek adamas, unconquerable. Most couples aren't thinking about ancient texts when they go shopping for tokens of undying love, though. "Diamonds just go along with getting married," Wyant says. "And, being basically neutral, colorless, they go with everything."

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From the February 9-16, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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